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sola Volume 1

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Sola Volume 1 by Naoki Hisaya and Chaco Abeno, a shojo manga series published by  Broccoli Books

Sola Volume 1

© © sola project / Media Works

The Bottom Line

A lonely girl who lives in darkness meets a boy who loves to photograph the daylit sky. Left at that, sola would be a bittersweet teenage love story, but the forces that are trying to keep this pair apart aren’t parents or jealous classmates, but darker, ancient grudges with supernatural origins.

Ifsola opted to explore the darker side of its story, it might have been a much more interesting read. Instead, it settles for pandering to the cute-pie girls / short skirts/big breasts fanservice formula at the expense of engaging storytelling and character development. A snooze of a story that most readers can safely skip.

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Pros

  • Offers a slightly different twist on the immortal, super-powered girl theme
  • Bittersweet story about young love, friendship and loneliness
  • Cute and pretty girls in cosplay-ready outfits
  • Hints at tantalizing supernatural mysteries and past connections yet to be revealed

Cons

  • Fairly generic, if you've seen it once, you've seen it a thousand times artwork
  • One-dimensional characters that never transcend their tired personality archetypes
  • The unabashedly fanservice-driven artwork is a poor distraction from the half-baked storytelling

Description

  • Original Title: sola (Japan)
  • Author: Naoki Hisaya
    Artist: Chaco Abeno
    Character Designer: Naru Nanao
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1597411769
  • Cover Price: $10.99 US
  • Age Rating: T – Teens Age 13+ for mild fanservice, violence
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: July 2008
    Japan Publication Date: July 2007
  • Book Description: 224 pages, black and white illustrations, 1 color page

Guide Review - sola Volume 1

Yorito is an amateur photographer who likes to capture images of the sky. Matsuri is a pretty girl who lives a dark, solitary life in an abandoned church. When Yorito first encounters Matsuri, he's struck by her mysteriously melancholy ways. Sensing that he's encountered a cute, but lonely soul who desperately needs a friend, he becomes smitten. What Yorito later finds out is that his teen friend is actually 350 years old, and her nocturnal ways are not a matter of choice, but a matter of life and death.

From first impressions of this story, it'd be easy to assume that Matsuri is a vampire, and that mysterious guy with a big sword and a very young-looking companion is a vampire hunter. But from there, sola takes a left turn from expectations. Matsuri may have supernatural reflexes and healing ability, but she has no appetite for sucking blood.

In sola Volume 1, Abeno and Hisaya hint that Matsuri is an immortal monster who has earned the animosity of several powerful enemies. But who these enemies are and why they want her dead is not fully explained. Abeno and Hisaya opt to save some revelations for sola Volume 2, which would be fine if Volume 1 gave more reasons to continue reading.

For the most part, sola is a snooze. The characters and the artwork are nicely done, but they're also drawn in a bland, generic style. It's all big-eyed, barely-pubescent girls with heaving bosoms and short-short skirts, big swords and some aerial martial arts ass-kickin' just to keep things moving. If you've seen it once, you've seen it in a thousand other similar manga.

No amount of up-the-skirt shots and barely-covered breasts can distract from sola's slap-dash storytelling and one-dimensional characters. There's still a chance that later volumes of sola will pick up the pace, but this first volume left me wondering, 'Why bother?'

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